Founder’s history

The inception of camellia

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Maybe your light is a seed and the darkness the dirt, in spite of the uneven odds beauty lifts from the earth.
— Sleeping At Last { Uneven Odds }

Part 1: Inception

The Camellia Sinensis seedling in embryonic dormancy, was sown into the soil of my consciousness long before cognitive of her significance.

In darkness, beneath the Earth’s surface, forces of Mother Natures’ perfectly combined elements: water, air, earth and fire {Sun}. Light activates enzymes to liberate the DNA code within the seed’s husk. Spiralling double helix, deliberately coded by Creator, kismet predestined before time began. Germination; golden brush strokes of memories, painted like grandma Alma’s strawberry tea, of Earl Grey tea parties thrown for teddy bears and Vivian {Mother}. Light birthed from darkness, resiliency from adversity, destruction and tillage of soil.

Thriving & Thirsty; tiny roots spreading outwards form a foundation. Like Reginald {Father} arriving home, cold “choice”, day-old thermos of creamy-and-sugar filled Red Rose in hand. Promised Sidewalk Cafe Lego sets and Baby Loves to Talk only ever halfway actualized. Too-sweet and ever-bitter melodies, echoing in dissonance for decades from the mountains of my memory. His favorite expression of love: “I wouldn’t trade you for all the tea in China.” Excitement eclipsed by disappointment, always in tug-of-suburban-war. Tears sewn like seeds, a gentle breeze, the breath of Life brought forth from thought into the physical dimension. A birth of a planet; Life exploding into existence by way of pressured chemicals, radiating a glimmer in the dust, from vapour to tactile.

Like Alice {pg.49} falling into the upside down, travelling along the ascending path; an ethereal tea trail traces a temperate, high-mountain climate. Spring melts into summer, from winter’s soil of all encompassing struggle, and inspite of the uneven odds, delicate buds emerge out of the woodwork.

Four seasons multiplied by four trips around the sun: time required for Camilla Sinensis’ full maturatuation, planting to harvest. Chronos and kairos collide inside and outside time and space. Patience sustains the seedling, stalled and stilled in maturation, transformations in phases of pause.


Part 2: Seedling

First trip around the sun: the natural anthem of day to night, light to darkness, life to death, technicolour fades to monochrome. At the tender age of ten, seedling’s husk cracks, Light leaks out of the Expansion which goes on and on. After rain; Blood-floodgates of fury unleash dark clouds of trauma, sense of urgency evoking a sudden game of hide and seek. Saltwater tears and holy water gathered and held in colourful jars of yixing clay, beaded by tropical dew after the storm. Broken vessels; Like tea seeping through the cracked bone china cup, angrily thrown, shattering to pieces. A mother sidesteps the wreckage, swiftly fleeing entrapment with her five children. Abandoned to reconcile the shards and chips of a fractured family.

Brown rabbits turn to white as the air grows crisp and snowflakes fall. That first winter seemed to last forever. A dull throb creeps in, like frost numbing the seedlings tender root tips. The cold seeps in and the seed-heart swells with sorrow. This freezing becomes her fire, a warmth pumped in through the red interior of Camellia’s vena cava. Enclosed within a household filled with creatures: siblings and dayhome children, seeking shelter from the chill. Centrifugal force draws roots into earth, and sprouts skywards. What had been terror would soon be a tea fields.

Chilled to the bones: defying the bitter arctic winds of that season, a coal of hope burns bright within the hardship. Building beneath the surface, a crackle becomes a roar as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got? Add more fuel to this fire, I dare you.” Kintsugi; filling wounds with a weight in gold, to fuse shattered pieces back together by honouring the break. Resilience smoked into leaves like Lapsang Souchong, roaring fire, a hunger of the pinewood, preserving, enduring the cold, arduous deliverance to Holland along the Silk Road.

In winter, growth is unseen. Roots taking hold in the soil of her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. A glimpse into the future: roots, stems, and leaves which grow in diameter, cultivating courage, determination, and leadership.


Part 3: Sapling

Second trip around the sun: Snow melts; transforming glaciers to rivers carving paths towards oceans, unveiling a green garden of undergrowth. White rabbits darken as the season morphs from an icy wonderland into a forest of lush maple. Burly bearded men, tool belts loaded and measuring tapes, hammer out the framework of a Habitat for Humanity. Walls intact upon the foundation of leadership, growth and hope.

Humid summer heat of the Georgian Bay coaxes smell of climbing trees from wooden bunk beds. Leaders of the hockey-player doughnut man’s kids camp guide underprivileged children to cultivate the arts of; navigation, survival, strategic planning and coexisting with nature. Droplets create concentric rings in lake water from paddles tips and pouring rain. Gruelling portages; backpack burdens of belongings and basic nautical necessities nurture leadership, sprouting new buds on Camellia’s stems.

Cha, written characters descend from the ancient middle kingdom, meaning as deeply rooted as the buds transforming to leaves; depicting the interlacement of sky, earth and humanity.

Seedling to sapling; swelling roots drink in abundance, expanding, demanding space, exploring wilder terroir, climates and cultures, rich in ceremony and soil. An honouring of wisdom, of tradition, of agriculture which feeds community and collaboration. Stability; painted like beautifully worn and weathered dirt-filled hands, two generations of resilient, Mennonite female lineage. A horticultural means of survival, a therapy, to Shake Off Your Worries in the spirit of Alma. Backyard gardening; Camellia’s roots submerged and nourished in social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Photosynthesis converts light, air and water into an ancient medicinal chemical composition of nutrients. Sunlight instigates transparency as each leafs cell membrane becomes translucent. At Crescent Heights; enlargers beams photons through contrast filters and 35mm black and white film, exposing light sensitive white blank pages. As x-rays to bones, decode the maps of marrow, so too did copper-colored crystalline strips divulge Camellia’s kismet. Relativity of space, time and the speed of light; first conscious crossover from chronos to kairos. Existentialism on prom night; a disruption of the ordinary, the chaos, the struggle of hormone-filled days of youth and poor choices. Ownership of choice, only lead to lessons learned and experience earned.

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Upon arrival; a sweet fragrance, a galvanizing lure beckoning from every corner of the earth and in every plane of time. Like Alice in pursuit of the White Rabbit, a locked door appears. Eat Me, Drink Me: instructions inscribed on an antique tabletop. Camellia the key, unknowingly already possessed; shrinking and growing to fit through the threshold. A wave of intoxicating aromas washes over, the weight of antique chestnut doors to a teahouse, like a riptide, a portal pulling one into the undertow of other dimensions.

Steeped in heat and harvest, fall ushers in this unanticipated sanctuary paired with a new thirst for knowledge and understanding. An atmosphere conducive to reflection, creation and dissolution; outer defenses erode. Comfort of heritage furniture evoking nostalgia and curiosity. Every visit a series of sips: tea tastes of exploration, elicits discovery. Each tea its own story, intertwined with a greater telling. Steeped in warm offering within circular walls of clay cups, earth and stone, simultaneously familiar yet mysterious. Like shipwrecked treasures washed up by the tide, upon the adored port-city shoreline of in the Burrard Inlet.

“The tea-room was an oasis in the dreary waste of existence where weary travellers could meet to drink from the common spring of art-appreciation.”
— Kakuzo Okakura { The Book of Tea }

Core memories of warm patio nights spent sipping chilled tea beneath the string-lit trees of Tomkin’s Park. Lingering fall heat sparks combusts into a sustainable flame of intrigue which burns strong and bright till spring. A reminder that all seasons must end, as time evolves. Seedling to sapling; swelling roots drinking in abundance, expanding, demanding space, exploring wilder terroir, climates and cultures, rich in ceremony and soil. An honouring of wisdom, of tradition, of agriculture which feeds community and collaboration.

A travel bug bites, like an insect invading the bloodstream, a driving force to evade familiarity is born. “Beat on” beyond the universal challenge line. Each subsequent experience functioning like a xylem corridor, transporting life and nourishment through Camellia. Like veins of Hawaiian lava layers deep beneath the earth’s surface, transparent the ocean. Only visible to the human eye from an x-ray birds eye view. Glowing blood flow through the body, always leading straight to the heart. Each rivers ability to both create new life, new land, while wielding the power to destroy simultaneously. Old things, destroyed by purity only to make way for the newness of grace. As a bridge between heaven & earth comes hope, redemption and the deterioration of earthly hardships.

Generosity cultivated through volunteer trips to learn the art of service. Beginning in the streets and needle-littered back alleys of Vancouver at 12, to painting the houses on a reservation in Montana at 14, to playing with the niños of Mexicali at 16, and children of the culturally-diverse Montréal at 17. From prairie to coastline: shipwrecked in transaltlantic sea water. A “salt water film on the jar of your ashes” forms in a flourishing of foreshadow: a death to come which began decades before.

The Ignite of winter’s fire, kindled an unquenchable thirst for understanding, knowledge, and revelation, combusting into a sustainable flame. Frosted flakes fall from the air, finding a final resting place, crystallizing into hoarfrost on stems within the field of terror in which Camillia grew. After many miles of wandering, the Painted Lady caterpillar spins a silken armoury for preservation, conducive to total transformation from which there is no return; a rubicon.

With a broken heart, transformation begins.
— Sleeping at Last { Sorrow }
Vanessa Meets Tea
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.
— Brene Brown { Daring Greatly }